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Archive for the ‘California Senate Race’ Category



Meyer on Palin’s Touch; Enthusiasm; Lies; eMeg 3.0

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Last week, when the Queen Bee of the Mean Girls — aka Sarah Palin — visited California to rally support for the Mad Hatter Tea Party, California’s Republican Mamma Grizzlies — Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina — were too busy with their own schedules to find time to appear with the Thundra from the Tundra.

Calbuzz is certain this had nothing to do with the Field Poll’s findings that Palin’s favorable-to-unfavorable rating in California is 33-58% or that 53% of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for someone endorsed by the former Alaska governor.

We’re sure they were sorry to miss Sarah, since both of them worked so tirelessly for her election to the White House when she was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate in 2008. But schedules are schedules. Or are they? Calbuzz Editorial Pen Swordsman Tom Meyer has another take on the scene.


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About that enthusiasm gap:There’s been a lot made of how depressed the Democrats are compared to the Republicans and no doubt, that appears to be true in many parts of the country. But not so much in California, according to the new LA Times/USC survey.

According to David Lauter of the Times:

The survey asked respondents to rate on a 10-point scale how enthusiastic they felt about voting this year. In September, when the poll asked that question, Republicans had a big advantage, with 42% of registered Republicans statewide rating their enthusiasm as a 10, compared with 27% of registered Democrats. In the latest survey, conducted statewide Oct. 13-20, that 15-point gap had nearly disappeared: 39% of registered Republicans rated their enthusiasm at 10, compared with 35% of registered Democrats.

The survey also found that Democratic likely voters scored an average 8.2 on a 10-point enthusiasm scale, compared to 8.3 for Republican likely voters and 7.4 for independents. And since the Times/USC survey has squeezed their voter model down to 44% Democrat and 40% Republican — a whopping 9 points below the actual difference in registration (when most pollsters are looking at something more like 43% D and 34% R) — it’s going to be hard to believe the GOP spinners when they argue that enthusiasm means things are breaking their way.

And speaking of spin: We weren’t there, but it sounded to us like Meg Whitman’s head exploded the other day after an event in Los Angeles where she accused Jerry Brown of lying about her record to Latinos — with special emphasis on her stand on Arizona’s immigration law which, by the way, she has said is fine for Arizona but not right for California because of geographic reasons (whatever those are).  The LA Times and AP wrote up the story, including this from eMeg:

“Jerry Brown has taken this vote for granted. He’s living on what he did for this community 40 years ago,” Whitman said. “I’m the first Republican in 30 years to open an office in East L.A. I have reached out to this community, I’ve been part of this community…. Our entire Internet site is translated into Spanish. His website — he uses Google to translate it into Spanish. I mean, think about that — it’s not respect for the community.”

What a puta, that Jerry Brown is! No wonder eMeg’s standing with Latinos has dropped 20 points or more. Surely that has nothing to do with her treatment of her housekeeper, Nicky Diaz, whom she fired unceremoniously in the summer of 2009 after learning that Nicky was an illegal immigrant.

Calbuzz was pleased to see, however, that we made the volcanic Sarah Pompei’s mailaround notice from the Whitman campaign with this entry:Click here to see a link to one such misleading mailer— actually a link to our Calbuzz exclusive report on labor’s mail campaign to Latinos, including prayer cards showing Brown with Cesar Chavez and with Mother Teresa.

eMeg 3.0: First it was jobs, education and waste. Then it was Jerry’s bad, I’m good. Now — 80,000 commercials later —  it’s, I’m a good billionaire who’ll treat you like adults, tell it to you straight and lead you out of the wilderness. Yes, the New and Improved Meg Whitman is now up on the air — a new 60-second quasi Fred Davis biographical spot designed to introduce (or re-introduce) eMeg to the 7% or so of California voters who don’t yet have an opinion about her. At this late stage in the campaign, it seems like a strange move. But who knows? Maybe Meg’s unfavorables are so high they have no choice but to try anything to make her likable. She should have come to dinner with Calbuzz a year ago.

BTW: When we heard about NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg campaigning for eMeg (“She’s my kind of candidate,” he said), it occurred to us that the two of them together have spent at least a quarter of a billion dollars seeking office — $109 million for Bloomberg and $141 million (and counting) for Meg.

PPIC Poll: Why Jerry and Babs Lead Meg and Carly

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Propelled by his standing among Democrats, Latinos, women, liberals and especially moderates, Jerry Brown is leading Meg Whitman 44-36% in the latest survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, which also finds Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina 43-38%.

Despite her massive spending – which is expected to reach $180 million – Republican Whitman has been unable to break away from Democrat Brown except among Republicans, conservatives and Southern Californians outside of Los Angeles.

Among independents – a group Team Whitman has identified as crucial to their final game plan – the race is essentially tied, with Whitman up only 37-36%, according to PPIC. Men, whites and voters in the Central Valley – demographics essential to a Republican candidate – also are evenly divided, while Brown is crushing Whitman in Los Angeles (54-28%) and the San Francisco Bay Area (55-29%).

Brown’s strong lead appears in some considerable part to be due to his appeal to middle-of-the-road voters – moderates – as distinct from independents, according to a crosstab PPIC created at the request of Calbuzz. Brown, of course, leads among liberals 82-4% and Whitman commands conservatives 63-15%. But among the large swath of voters in the middle – however they are registered to vote – Brown leads 51-29%.

The findings are based on a turnout model – derived from questions probing respondents’ likliness to vote — that includes 44% Democrats, 35% Republicans and 19% independents. The 9-point differential between Democrats and Republicans is 4 points lower than the official difference by party registration. That takes into account the “enthusiasm gap” many pollsters find during the election season.

But if Republicans turn out in vastly higher numbers and Democrats don’t, the race could certainly be closer than PPIC suggests. On the other hand, the survey only includes 49% women, which is likely 2-4 percent too low — which would advantage Brown and Boxer.

While Brown leads Whitman on voters’ beliefs about who would do a better job on education, environment and immigration, Whitman leads on two of the most compelling issues – jobs and the economy, and state budget and taxes. But PPIC did not ask questions about character or qualifications – two concerns the Brown campaign believe precede voters’ views about issues.

The data make it clear why, in the closing days of the campaign, Whitman continues to hammer on Brown’s record on  jobs, taxes, the death penalty and pensions, while Brown is emphasizing Whitman’s truthfulness, experience, self-interest and integrity.

While just half the Democrats say they are satisfied with their choices of candidates in the governor’s race and 46% say they’re not satisfied, only 38% of Republicans are satisfied compared to 58% who are not satisfied.

Satisfaction doesn’t seem to be preventing either Brown or Whitman from consolidating their party base: Brown has 76% of the Democrats and Whitman has 73% of the Republicans. But given that Whitman has spent so lavishly – explaining that she must do this because Brown is so well-known and the unions are funding him to the hilt – it is astonishing that nearly six in 10 Republicans are not happy with their choice.

The relatively large number of undecided voters — 16% — is at least partly a function of PPIC’s polling technique: they do not ask undecided voters for whom they are leaning, a question that many pollsters use to better simulate a final vote.

In the race for  U.S. Senate, Boxer commands Democrats, Women, Latinos, liberals and – importantly – moderates. She also kills Republican Fiorina in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

But Fiorina is closer to Boxer than Whitman is to Brown because she is not only ahead among Republicans, conservatives and voters in Southern California outside of LA, she also leads Boxer among men, whites and voters in the Central Valley. Only independents are a wash.

According to the special Calbuzz crosstab, Boxer has the liberals 81-4% and Fiorina has the conservatives 69-13%. But moderates are tilting 51-24% for Boxer – which explains why Boxer is emphasizing Fiorina’s very conservative views on abortion, offshore oil drilling, environment and other issues that cast her GOP opponent outside of the California mainstream.

Voters are more satisfied with their choices for Senate than they are their choices for governor: Democrats are satisfied 67-27%, Republicans are OK with their choice 61-34% and independents say they’re satisfied by 51-41%.

None of the propositions PPIC tested appear in great shape: Prop. 19, to legalize marijuana, is trailing 44-49%; Prop. 23, to overturn the state’s greenhouse gas controls, is losing 37-48%; Prop. 24, to repeal a law giving business a tax break, is behind 31-38%, with 31% undecided; and Prop. 25, to lower the threshold to pass a budget to a majority, is leading just 49-34%.

PPIC surveyed 1,802 adults by landline and 200 by cell phone, Oct. 10-17. Included in the sample were 1,067 respondents identified as likely voters, for whom the margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. (The cell phone interviews, however, included were with adults who have both cell phone and landline service, not just those who have a cell phone only – a demographically distinct, and more Democrat-leaning, group. PPIC informs us that at most 103 respondents in their total sample have a cell phone only. We don’t know how many CPOs were in their likely voter sample.)

PS: We note with some disgust that the Wall Street Journal broke PPIC’s embargo on this survey. We’re not sure where they got the numbers but they may have figured them out from the Brown campaign’s 1:30 pm conference call when the survey was discussed. Calbuzz, however, has played by the rules.

What Tsunami? Only 3 House Districts in Play

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

By Mackenzie Weinger
Special to Calbuzz

Beltway prognosticators sound ever more certain about Republicans seizing control of the House in a national electoral tsunami, but in California, only three of 53 congressional districts feature competitive races.

While today’s conventional wisdom suggests a GOP pick up of perhaps 50 seats nationally, which would end the reign of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, California Democrats are not expected to lose more than a seat or two, if that, from their current 34-to-19 majority in the state’s House delegation.

National attention remains focused on the close race between incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina, of course, but the House partisan breakdown is unlikely to change much, because of a combination of California’s Democrat-trending demographics and the incumbent-friendly reapportionment that followed the 2000 census.

“We’re a Dem-leaning state and President Obama’s approval ratings are a bit higher here than they are elsewhere, and in some ways that insulates us from that backlash,” said UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser. “And secondly, the post-2000 redistricting means there are a lot less competitive seats.”

The races in play: Perhaps the most surprising race, given the national political atmosphere is the Third Congressional District in Northern California. It’s here that the Democrats may be able to snatch a seat from a Republican incumbent.

As one of the few races going against the Republican trend this year, the contest  between Rep. Dan Lungren (R) and physician Ami Bera (D) is one of the Democrats’ few pickup opportunities of this cycle.

Bera — who has consistently outraised Lungren, raked in $550,000 in the third quarter, giving him $2.1 million this cycle, while Lungren brought in $480,000, for a total of $1.7 million. Pres. Obama eked out a win here in 2008, giving Democrats hope for a potential midterm success.

Even as it goes against this year’s pro-Republican tide, this campaign shares the same overall narrative of many GOP-leaning races around the country: a political newbie taking on an entrenched career politician.

“Lungren has been around politics his whole life,” Bera said. “He’s certainly not from this district. It’s a clear contrast. Lungren is representing corporate America… And our narrative has always been on rebuilding the middle class.”

Bera traced his campaign’s ability to buck the anti-Democratic trend to his ground-up organization and his background as a physician.

“There’s a couple reasons why this race is moving against the current,” Bera said. “We built this campaign from the very beginning from the grassroots, holding house parties where neighbors opened up their living rooms. We’ve literally done hundreds of these conversations. We’ve had a lot of individual donors and built on word of mouth. That insulated us a little bit. It’s certainly a perfect year to be a doctor running for Congress.”

Bera, who noted his campaign has over 3,000 volunteers, insisted Democrats could still use the final weeks before the election to make a successful push to hold the House: “The House of Representatives isn’t lost,” Bera said.

Also in Northern California, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), faces a threat from attorney David Harmer (R) one of the National Republican Campaign Committee’s “Young Guns” in the 11th Congressional District. CQ-Roll Call, RealClearPolitics and Cook Political Report all have this race as a toss-up.

Somewhat less competitive is Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s (D) seat in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County, where a a win by Assemblyman Van Tran, California’s other Republican “Young Gun”, would spell a huge victory for the GOP.

Sanchez’s recent gaffe on Univision’s Sunday show, “Al Punto” — where she accused “the Vietnamese” and Republicans of trying to take her seat in Congress — has added fire to Tran’s campaign in the final month.

“It speaks for itself,” Tran’s campaign manager George Andrews said. “For her to come unglued on that TV show just shows how nervous she is. She knows times are changing in her district, and being a DC insider, she’s lost touch with the reality of the voters in Orange County.”

Andrews said this year’s GOP wave has definitely hit the 47th district: “Absolutely it’s a factor,” he said. “We’re going door-to-door in Loretta’s backyard and people are sick and tired of poor representation. She’s only passed one bill after the past 14 years — and it was to name a post office.”

In the Senate race, polls show Boxer still ahead of ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Fiorina, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and other national GOP groups continue pouring in money, which has kept the challenger financially competitive.

CQ-Roll Call and Rothenberg Political Report rate the race as leaning Dem, but RealClearPolitics, Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball are calling the race a toss-up.

UCSD political scientist Kousser said the Senate race is a “microcosm of the national scene – a liberal Democrat very much tied to President Obama” coupled with a case of the “Republicans nominating someone on the right end of the political spectrum.”

“If it had been Tom Campbell who won the primary, he would have had a chance in this environment,” Kousser said. “But we haven’t seen a pro-lifer win a top of the ticket race here in California for two decades. Carly Fiorina still has a shot, but if she wins this race, that’s going to be the signal that the House and Senate are really turning over.

Washington-based political reporter Mackenzie Weinger is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Nexus at UC Santa Barbara.

Meyer ‘Toon, Top Goo Goos, Meg’s Money, Polls

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Since Meg Whitman wouldn’t change her pearls without a market research study, it’s safe to say that her grudging and belated acceptance of Jerry Brown’s apology in the campaign’s whore war came about only after polling showed she was doing herself as much harm as good by continuing to whine about it. As Tom Meyer reminds us today, most normal people, not to mention the Sisters of Perpetual Disappointment, almost certainly couldn’t figure out what she and her amateur hour communications crew was on about in the first place. (As for us, we, per usual, blame The Media).

Sifting through the entrails of this scandal-that-wasn’t, Calbuzz wants to acknowledge a few heroes in the saga, starting with the students, staff and administration of Dominican University, who did a heckuva’ job in staging an event of presidential debate caliber, even if the quality of the political entertainment sometimes fell a little short of the standards of excellence and civility they set with their careful preparations and warm hospitality.

H/T too, to Tom Brokaw for a first-rate job of ringmastering the eMeg-Krusty show. We made no secret of our concern that Tom the Tourist might not be the right man for the job. But after trying a little too hard at the start to ingratiate himself by bragging on his California bona fides, Brokaw hurled sharply crafted queries at each of the rivals – seeing no need, to his great credit, to pose the same questions to both – and also allowed the debate to go where it wanted to go, letting the rivals bark at each other, with none of the typical moderator’s control freak need to micromanage the clock or hog the camera. For our lack of faith, we criticize ourselves severely .

Calbuzz Goo Goo Offering: More and more sites on the interwebs are offering ways of helping people participate in the great, glorious process we call “democracy,” and Calbuzz, ever-helpful and dedicated to civic participation, is aware of a few worth mentioning.

First mention, of course, is one that BUYS ADVERTISING on our site. And that would be California Choices, which has a neat application to help you understand the propositions and, even better, to see what stands have been taken on the props by myriad interest groups, unions, newspapers and political parties you may like or dislike.

You can even fill out an online ballot form and email your personal recommendations to whomever you want. It’s put together by Next 10, the Bill Lane Center at Stanford, Berkeley’s IGS and Sacramento State.

Our old friend Greg Larson has also pulled together a massive number of organizations into a giant spreadsheet on each of the propositions. You can find it here. These kinds of sites are helpful because maybe you don’t know what to think about some props, but you know that you’d likely to agree (or disagree) with the Sierra Club or the Chamber of Commerce, or whoever.

Yahoo! and eVoter have teamed up to create a cool app with which you can enter your address and find your polling place – in case you’re not a permanent absentee voter and would actually like to show up and vote on election day.

There’s also an easy-to-use nonpartisan online voter guide called Imagine Election. You type in your zip code and get information about federal, state and some local candidates and invites reviews of candidates. Some of their information (for example how much money each candidate is spending) is rather out of date, but there’s some decent basic info there.

Coals to Newcastle: Not long before eMeg tossed another $20 million of pin money into the pot  – bringing her self-funding total for the campaign to more than $140M – our spies inside Camp eMeg forwarded an intriguing fundraising appeal aimed at a very select group of Top Bracket FOMs.

With a heavyweight sponsorship lineup including Sun Microsystems czar Scott McNealy, veteran GOP cash cow Howard Leach and Bush fundraiser/cell phone fortune spouse Susan McCaw, the A-list pitch bemoaned the evil forces that conspired to force eMeg into the position of, um, well, being responsible for her own actions regarding Nicky Diaz.

The recent attacks against our friend Meg were orchestrated to disrupt her campaign at the most pivotal moment.  The facts are that Meg did everything right.

Well almost everything.

In a stirring call for ruling class solidarity personal loyalty, the October 6 letter says, without a hint of irony, that Team Moneybags must raise $1 million in 10 days to spare eMeg the outrageous opprobrium of being accused of trying to buy the election.

We all know that Meg and Griff have invested significant resources and have been attacked for trying to level the playing field against the status quo…

Meg will be vilified for any additional contributions she makes to the campaign. We need to show her critics that she has enormous support from individuals within California and around the country…

Meg has worked tirelessly and done everything we could have expected her to do to win this race. We cannot sit by and let these attacks go unanswered. As her friends, we have to stand with her in the final days and ensure she knows we are behind her.

Given that our friend Meg just had to cough up another $20 million, it appears they were standing far behind her.

Don’t Call Us: When a Rasmussen Poll says Jerry Brown is leading Meg Whitman 50-44%, including 53-41% among women (after the “whore” story fallout) and 76-23% among non-whites and non-blacks (mostly Latinos with a few Asians), you know the ground is shifting in Brown’s direction.

Part of the explanation is that Rasmussen is fiddling with his turnout model – moving from a 2-point spread of Democrats over Republicans to a 6-point spread (could be he wants his survey to look more “scientific” and less partisan). But because the Rasmussen survey is automated, and it’s illegal to automatically dial cell phones, his surveys are fatally flawed – against Democrats.

A new study by the Pew Research Center underscores the distaste Calbuzz has regularly expressed for automatic, robotic calling, web-based polling and other shoddy political surveys. Pew found that surveys that do not include cell phones, “including virtually all of the automated polls” (like Rasmussen and SurveyUSA) yield a bias for Republicans and against Democrats on the order of 4 to 6 percentage points.

California pollsters (like the Field Poll, USC/LA Times and most private pollsters) who use the Secretary of State’s official list of voters as a base for their surveys automatically avert this source of potential error because they call respondents at whatever phone number they used when registering to vote. Other credible pollsters (like PPIC) use random digit dialing but  include a representative sample of cell phones.

Here’s what Pew reported:

The latest estimates of telephone coverage by the National Center for Health Statistics found that a quarter of U.S. households have only a cell phone and cannot be reached by a landline telephone. Cell-only adults are demographically and politically different from those who live in landline households; as a result, election polls that rely only on landline samples may be biased. Although some survey organizations now include cell phones in their samples, many — including virtually all of the automated polls — do not include interviews with people on their cell phones. (For more on the impact of the growing cell-only population on survey research, see “Assessing the Cell Phone Challenge,” May 20, 2010).

In the Pew Research Center’s latest poll, conducted Aug. 25 to Sept. 6 among 2,816 registered voters, including 786 reached by cell phone, 44% said that if the election were held today that they would vote for the Republican candidate for Congress in their district or leaned Republican, while 47% would vote for the Democratic candidate or leaned Democratic. Among the landline respondents, 46% preferred the GOP candidate and 45% the Democratic candidate, a four-point shift in the margin.

Rasmussen also had Democrat Barbara Boxer with a narrow 49-46% lead over Republican Carly Fiorina in the U.S. Senate race but again, take it with a huge grain of salt: no matter how hard Rasmussen tries, as long as they exclude cell phones, their surveys will tilt to the right

Memo to Rose K: Now that Babs has melted down in front of both Fred Barnes and Wolfie, we can only conclude it’s waaay past grandma’s nap time.

PPIC: Brown, Whitman Tied; Boxer Leading Fiorina

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

A new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California finds the races for governor and Senate just about where the Field Poll had them – with Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman in a dead heat for governor and Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina in the race for U.S. Senate.

About the only significant shift PPIC found was a movement among those they identified as independents, who shifted 10 points in favor of Whitman, with Whitman now at 38% and Brown at 30% compared to July when Brown had 30% and Whitman had 28%. More on this odd finding later.*

In the PPIC poll, Brown is only winning 63-13% among Democrats while Whitman is holding 71-10% among Republicans. They are tied among men with Whitman leading among women by 2%. That gender split is at odds with historical patterns wherein the Democrat traditionally trails among men and leads among women.

PPIC also showed Brown leading Whitman just 32-25% among Latinos – a smaller margin than the USC/LA Times poll had (51-32%), but closer to what the Field Poll reported (43-40%). All those Latino numbers, however, were before Nicky Diaz told her story Wednesday about working for Whitman.

According to PPIC, seven in 10 liberals and a plurality of moderates prefer Brown while two-thirds of conservatives favor Whitman.

A couple of interesting crosstabs PPIC ran for Calbuzz that show some fault lines:

Brown voters lean 5-3 against Prop 23, which would suspend California’s law limiting greenhouse gases, while Whitman voters lean 4-3 in favor of the proposition.

On a question that gets to creating a path to citizenship for illegal workers, 61% of likely voters said “most illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years . . .  should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status” while just 35% said they should be deported back to their native country.”

Those favoring a path to citizenship lean 75-44% for Brown while those for deportation favor Whitman 52-20%. Also, Brown voters favor a path to citizenship over deportation by 46-21% while Whitman voters prefer deportation by 56-28%.

Here’s PPIC’s rundown on the Senate race:

Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer holds a 7-point lead over Republican Carly Fiorina in the U.S. senate race, with 17 percent of likely voters undecided. In July, the race was closer (39% Boxer, 34% Fiorina, 22% undecided). Today, Democrats (72%) support Boxer at much the same level as they did in July (68%); Republican support for Fiorina is also consistent (72% today, 72% July). Independents are currently divided in their support for Fiorina (34%) and Boxer (32%); in July, independents were somewhat more likely to prefer Boxer (35%) over Fiorina (29%). Boxer receives overwhelming support from liberals (74%) while 66 percent of conservatives favor Fiorina. A plurality of moderates say they will vote for Boxer (46%) rather than Fiorina (25%).

PPIC: Sept. 19-26; 2,004 adults surveyed, including 1,563 registered voters and 1,104 likely voters. Margin of error for likely voters is ±3.6 percent.

Another poll just out:

From Time/CNN: “Democrats Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown have cemented leads over their GOP opponents… Boxer leads Fiorina 52% to 43% among likely voters. That’s a significant improvement from earlier this month when a CNN-TIME-Opinion Research poll found Boxer just edging past Fiorina amongst likely voters 48% to 44%. Likewise in the gubernatorial race, Brown leads former eBay CEO Meg Whitman 52% to 43% among likely voters, a reversal of fortunes for Brown who earlier this month was losing to Whitman 46% to 48% in a poll conducted Sept. 2-7. Brown and Boxer both benefit from moderates breaking for them: 59% for Boxer to Fiorina’s 32% and 59% for Brown to Whitman’s 36%…. 786 likely voters… margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.”

Footnote for polling weedwhackers

*This would be a significant movement if it were clear that those defined as independents in the PPIC poll really are independents. But it’s not. Like many pollsters nationwide, PPIC uses random digit dialing (RDD) to sample the adult population of California and then, with a series of questions, identifies Democrats, Republicans and independents and from them, using other questions, PPIC culls a sample of likely voters.

PPIC’s total sample, based on respondents’ answers, was 45% Democrats, 31% Republicans and 23% independents – close to registration but a bit high on independents. Their likely voter sample (which was not in their public release) was 45% Democrats, 36% Republicans and 18% independents – very similar to the proportions other public pollsters are using.

Other pollsters working in California politics have, for the sake of certainty and cost, moved to using the Secretary of State’s voter list from which to draw a sample of actual registered voters and then, using their actual voting history (and sometimes supplemental questions) determine who should be counted as a likely voter. The voter list does not include unlisted phone numbers or numbers for people who chose not to list one when they registered to vote. But it does include actual registered voters and their cell phone number if that’s what they listed when they registered.

RDD sampling, on the other hand, has the advantage of ensuring that every residential phone number in California, listed or not, has an equal chance of being included in the survey. But it relies on people’s responses to determine what party they’re in and if they’re likely to vote. So someone who is a Democrat but somewhat pissed off at the Democrats might tell a pollster he’s an independent. Or an independent might say she’s a Democrat. There’s no way to really know what party, if any, they’re registered in and if they’re really a likely voter. (Moreover, pollster have to supplement with random cellphone calls for which actual home residency can be tricky.)

Mark Baldassare, who runs PPIC’s polling, is very good at what he does. And his findings are extremely close to what the Field Poll found and not that far from what the LA Times/USC survey found. But a 10-point movement among independents is an odd finding that seems hard to explain from the post-Labor Day course of the campaign.

It’s possible that this movement is a function of how likely voters are defined in the survey. PPIC’s likely voter screen includes native and foreign born US citizens who say they are registered to vote and who say they always or nearly always vote. They must also say they have a great deal or fair amount of interest in politics and have at least some college education and have lived at their current residence up to five years OR they describe their interest in politics as only a little but have lived at their current residence for five years or more. In the months before an election PPIC also uses voters’ professed intention to vote and their measure of interest in politics to winnow out unlikely voters.

Including people who are registered Decline to State and including them only if they’ve voted in previous elections sure would be more straightforward.